From The Founder

Dear Valued Clients &
Friends of Aqua Maestro
:

“Another year over, a new one just begun,” as the lyric from John Lennon’s holiday song goes. 2007 will be very special for our company. We anticipate major changes in our business model, and we have two new products ready to launch.

In case you haven’t seen this release (it’s on the bottom of our Home Page – www.aquamaestro.com – under In The News), here’s a condensed version of our new Wildalp brand announcement:

December 6, 2006
Boca Raton-based Aqua Maestro, Inc., distributor of fine bottled waters throughout the United States and the Caribbean basin, has been named exclusive US Importer for "Wildalp," a superior natural Alpine water from Austria.

Aqua Maestro will begin importing products in early 2007. The labeling will be Wildalp's "baby water" branding, as the purity of Wildalp is such that it is sold in Austria and throughout Europe as pure enough for babies - complete with a picture on the front label of a happy toddler.

The brand will be available in two sizes - .5 Liter, and 1.0 Liter. Both packages are cylindrical PET plastic, and make a simple, handsome appearance. For the initial promotion, Wildalp will also provide Aqua Maestro with a supply of .25 L bottles.

Wildalpen is located in the heart of Styria, Hochschwab. The Seisenstein spring yields water with a pH value of 7.8, is extremely rich in natural oxygen content at 9.2 mg/l, and has a very low 1.97 milligrams per liter level of sodium. Annual bottling capacity is over two hundred million liters. In general, Vienna's mountain spring water is world-famous, and many consider it the "best" drinking water in the world.

Wildalp is already popular as an export item elsewhere in the world, especially to "organic" oriented wholesalers. Outside of Austria, it is currently sold in Germany, France, Greece, Cyprus, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Korea, and Taiwan.

Aqua Maestro Founder & Chairman, Gene D. Donney was excited to finalize the deal: "We have had Wildalp on our radar screen for years. We know it is featured at great water stores in Europe, including Chez Colette in Paris, and we are real happy to be able to bring this terrific brand to the US..."

Dr. Karl J. Martschisch, Director of Wildalpen-Wasserverwertungs G.m.b.H., said: "We know that Americans are becoming more and more choosy and sophisticated with water. Wildalp is among the best in the entire world, and it will be the only water from Austria in Aqua Maestro's list of world-class products...."



We all know that water comes in three states – liquid (between 33 and 211 Degrees Fahrenheit); gas (from 212 degrees F & higher); and liquid (from 32 degrees F & lower). Aqua Maestro takes a dip into the freezing range for 2007 with the debut of a superior, innovative product called ICEROCKS.

Below is the product information soon to be seen on the Aqua Maestro web site:



Name: ICEROCKS
Country of Origin: FRANCE
TDS: 300
pH: 7.8
Altitude: 490 feet
Discovery of Source: New

Better water, better ice, for those who want to have their ice and drink it too - with the same great level of quality. ICEROCKS® are secured sealed ice cubes made from spring water drawn from the Vendée Region of France in the Massif Central. Wow!

These glorious cubes, ready to be frozen, are hermetically packaged in disposable, recyclable containers, providing complete guarantee of hygiene and safety. The ICEROCKS® light mineral water features 37 milligrams per liter of Calcium, 157 mg/liter of Bicarbonate, 42 mg/liter Silica, and Sulphates at 53 mg/liter. Nitrates are ZERO.

A great step forward in the integration of fine water products at a price that everyone can afford. Full Retail Price will be $5.89; PCM Price $5.24.



To foam or not to foam anymore: that was the question we grappled with as 2006 came to a close after six months of using custom foam injection molds to ship glass products across the country. The breakage rate was acceptable - but not quite as brilliant as we'd hoped. Then there were a few complaints about the awkwardness of dealing with the molds when opening the boxes to get at the goodies. And, from the company's standpoint, the projected unit cost for the foam packing turned to be a nifty triple what was advertised by their product experts. Shipping is already expensive, so the prospect of truing up the foam economics with a packing cost increase was pretty much out of the question.

Surely, our management team ruminated, there must be a better way. How do shippers of fine wines do it?

We think we have it licked at last. In December we started phasing in custom made wine shipper inserts to replace the foam molds. Plenty of R & D was needed to adapt the made-for-wine inserts into sizes and shapes that worked for us. So far, so good, with the exception of a few bottles of sparkling Lynx and Gleneagles that blew their top (we're working on that). Soon, our plant will receive the balance of the custom inserts for the rest of the sizes, and switch over entirely. Your feedback would be most appreciated.

Many of you took note of the recent price incentives - which remain in effect - for Via Natural and Borsec. We appreciate that, and hope more clients will jump on these two terrific brands and the terrific values they represent.

I also wish to thank all our local clients for helping us by getting their holiday orders placed on a timely basis. We managed to achieve 100% fulfillment, and could not have done it without your cooperation.

As always, please feel free to email me at gene@geneddonney.com. One more thing, again - Doesn't anybody want a free gift basket?? We still await the first digital WATER PIX. Send us your favorite (or any!) digital picture of your brand of choice at home, work, play, or at a restaurant - and a beautiful free gift basket from us to you will be on its way. You don't have to be over 21 (or 18, or 16...) to submit your pix.

Thanks – Gene


Welcome Aboard

The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino
3355 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 414 1000 or
(877) 883 6423
Fax: (702) 414 1100
www.venetian.com

Il Migliore Trattoria
2576 NE Miami Gardens Drive
North Miami Beach, Florida 33180
(305) 792 2902

Hilton Fort Lauderdale
505 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd. (A1A)
Fort Lauderdale. Florida 33304
(954) 760 7177
Fax: (954) 760 9771
http://www1.hilton.com/

Gotham City
16950 Jog Road
Delray Beach, Florida 33446
(561) 381 0200
www.gothamcityrestaurant.com



Featured Water

Mount Olympus



If the picture above looks familiar, you probably watched the 2002 Winter Olympic Games from Salt Lake City. This shot is looking east from Olympic Hills Park toward the Wasatch Mountains - the source of Mount Olympus. Indeed, athletes from around the world were treated to this great mountain water during the XIX Winter Olympic Games.

Aqua Maestro searches the world for fine waters, and this great is an American classic. Pioneers who entered Salt Lake Valley in 1847 remarked on the outstanding drinking quality of the mountain water and many trekked to the spring to obtain it. In 1898 the Mount Olympus Fruit and Livestock Farm Company was formed to capture the spring water at its source and distribute it commercially in Salt Lake Valley. By the late 1800s bottled water deliveries began in the Salt Lake Area, and more than a hundred years later Mount Olympus is honored as the paragon of Western spring waters.

Aqua Maestro's founder, Gene D. Donney, was privileged to visit the company and admire the great natural beauty of Wasatch Mountains southeast of Salt Lake City. The protected source is at an elevation of 5,000 feet in a federally designated wilderness area. The source's quality is uniform, and absent any chlorine, harsh chemicals or impurities that could alter Mount Olympus's pristine taste. In fact, according to the company's records, more than fifty years of chemical analyses have not indicated any discernible change in quality or mineral composition of the water drawn from Neff's Canyon (picture below).



In 1963 the current management acquired the company and in 1980 the company constructed a large new bottling and warehouse facility. A further renovation in 1997 added computerized high-speed filling lines and processing equipment all in stainless steel.

The chemistry of Mount Olympus is a sweet, simple story. The water’s pH is a human body-matching 7.2. Its Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) are in the “pure” classification at 52 parts per million, which places the brand in the same general purity classification as Via Natural, Voss, Levissima, Daggio, and the purest of them all, Lauretana.

Given the water’s extremely low TDS, there is not much to remark about in terms of the limited mineral content. There is smattering of Calcium at 11 milligrams per liter, and Chlorides (note: chlorides – good for you; contrasted to chlorine – bad for you) account for 5.7 milligrams per liter. There’s also a trace of Sodium and Magnesium. The real taboo – Nitrates - are ZERO!

When Aqua Maestro brought this great line on at the time of the company’s formation in 2002, we initially had several SKUs ranging all the way up to the 2.5 gallon size. We found that the largest sizes didn’t enjoy the truck ride from Utah to South Florida very much, so regrettably we had to drop the “convenience” sizes – which Mr. Donney used to love and keep in his own refrigerator, especially the sideways oriented 2.5 gallon with the bottom push-serve spigot. Currently, we stock three SKUs.


The 20-ounce flat-cap pink label is certainly the prettiest of the three PET plastic packages we carry. It acquits itself well from a presentation standpoint compared to many of the upper end imports.



The 24-ounce is a more conventional shape, blue tinted bottle with a sport cap. Because of the sport cap feature, this SKU has a decent market share with our private clients, and it is also carried at various health clubs serviced by Aqua Maestro.



By popular demand, we re-stocked the baby size 9.8-ounce package. Ounce for ounce, the miniatures are more expensive than the 20-ounce or 24-ounce SKUs, but it is a desirable single-serve convenience size that easily fits in a purse and people love it.



We hope to some day figure out how to get the 2.5 gallon refrigerator SKU to travel better, and put it back into the Aqua Maestro inventory. Customer demand would intensify our motivation; it was so long ago when we discontinued it that most of our clients today are not familiar with the jumbo package.

To order Mount Olympus, please call or email Alexis Donney-Brillinger or Carla in the Private Client Division - 561 392 3336 x 100; adb@aquamaestro.com. Wholesale inquiries should be directed to Shirley Costanza, sc@aquamaestro.com.


Pipeline

Mexico: Do Drink the Water

Mountain Valley Spring Water, that is. The Arkansas company that has been pumping out great water from their good earth for over a century is planning to enter the Mexican market in 2007.

Aqua Maestro (no business affiliation with Mountain Valley) has long exported a variety of premium brands to select Mexican distributors, and directly services some prime resort properties in the land of the Incas. So The Mountain Valley decision does not come as a shock to us. It will probably take some time for Mountain Valley's penetration plan to unfold, but Mexicans are just like us. And that means discerning consumers there want fine items the same as discerning consumers here in the US.

In a parallel development, Mountain Valley is also eyeballing China according to a press story quoting their top marketing man. In the past two years, inquiries from China have become more commonplace at Aqua Maestro, and we completed some business into Shanghai in 2006. It's a safe bet that the next unexpected pocket of demand for fine bottled water is sitting in one of our email folders.

M’Gosh! This is turning into an all-American edition of THE FOUNTAINHEAD

Mount Olympus is the featured water; Mountain Valley is in the story above and it’s appropriate to mention the two other US greats: Saratoga Springs, and English Mountain.

Two more of the best waters in the country, Saratoga and English Mountain, are looking forward to a big 2007. Saratoga, headquartered near Lake George in upstate New York, is the much larger company, and with its iconic blue glass bottle they already enjoy serious market share east of the Mississippi in upscale establishments. Their PET line is a great bargain, and savvy water lovers snap at the value. Our guess is that Saratoga’s naturally flavored Essence water is new product whose timing is right for the market.

English Mountain services a small regional market in Tennessee under their own brand name. And they have a dynamic private bottling division with clientele that ranges from the celebrated Bling H2O, to the Cracker Barrel chain under a private label. CEO John Burleson has strong targets for 2007 – we bet he hits them.

Stemware Makes the Beverage

This is something like “clothes make the man,” “décor makes the home,” and a bunch of other hunky dory-isms. I guess if you believe one of these you should believe all of them.

Martha Stewart, take notes. If you want perfection in your fine bottled water service here are the ideals:

Slightly blue tinted water stemware is preferable to clear so your sommelier or butler doesn’t mistake it for a wine glass.

The vessel must be very light weight. As water has no color, and barely any taste –even the high TDS waters – the sole sensory connection is weight and mass. For this quality to be appreciated, the vessel itself should be of minimal weight and mass.

To further distinguish water stemware from wine stemware, the water vessel should be taller. The profile above the stem should also be straight rather than curved.

Finally, if you want to get last detail perfect, perfect, I say, still water stemware should have a wider diameter; sparkling or naturally carbonated water should have the narrower diameter.

Michael Mascha’s Fine Waters site - finewaters.com/Water_Food/index.asp - has more on the topic. The Austrian stemware maker Riedel – www.riedel.com – has a big selection of high class stemware.

Too Much Energy?

Some industry analysts are wondering if the me-too Energy Drink craze isn’t going a bit far. Recent radio and TV broadcasts have pointed up the potentially addictive features of high caffeine content in some (but not all) of these drinks – and the fact that certain brands do not disclose caffeine info on their labeling. Red Bull, for instance, has a lot more caffeine than Mountain Dew, a soda that built a loyal customer base in love with a rush. And there are other Energy Drinks with more of the wake-up stuff than Red Bull. The new extra additive is the guarana herb, from Brazil.

The names are also raising eyebrows to new heights. In an effort to shock potential consumers into consumption, Redux Beverage came to market with Cocaine. – The Legal Alternative (pictured below).



One cannot be sure, but we think the low point has to be – ready? – Fukola Cola. In case it goes the way of the wired dinosaur, here’s a picture for posterity.


Okay, one more.



Had enough?

Long term Trends in the World of Wine and Beer

According to Beverage Marketing Corporation, the annual adult per capita consumption of “spirits” (booze – vodka, rum, tequila, gin, and all the brown stuff) has fallen from 2.5 Gallons per Year in 1985 to 1.81 Gallons in 2005. The nadir was 1.76 gallons in 2000, and spirits consumption has basically plateaued since 1994.

Wine is making a comeback. In 1986 the annual per capita consumption was 3.6 Gallons, but that plunged to a 1994 low of 2.5 Gallons. Since then, the grape has grown back to almost 3 Gallons a year. Studies indicating the health benefits of red wine, specifically the resveratrol compound, probably have something to do with it.  The so-called French Paradox – “How can the Gauls enjoy such incredibly high cholesterol diets and not have correspondingly high blood cholesterol?“ -  is attributed by some experts to their high consumption of red wine.

Another good reason to keep your fine bottled water stemware distinct from your wine stemware.

Norwegian Copycats?

Voss in conquering the world, so it shouldn’t shock that another Norwegian is trying to follow suit. For sure, they have a long row to hoe.

Along comes Isbre. They source their water from the Hardanger Fjord in Ulvik, and claim the source is a 10,000 year old sub-arctic glacier. They also claim to have the purest (lowest TDS) product in the world, but Aqua Maestro can neither confirm or refute, as we have no data and have not done any in-house testing of the brand.

And now, for some real "inside-baseball" Water Industry Info

What do Charles Campbell, DJ Miskowiec, and Thomas Carter have in common? Congratulations to them, whoever they are, for sharing first place in the International Bottled Water Association’s 2006 Aqua Award for Best Route Salespersons in the bottled water industry.

If any of our readers knows these folks, tell ‘em “Well Done” from Aqua Maestro.



© 2006